Portrayal Of Women In William Shakespeare S Essay

Plaies Essay, Research Paper

The critical inquiry of most bookmans analyzing William Shakespeare s composing was whether he was seeking to emphasize the importance of equality and fairness amongst adult females or was he, as a male raised in the sixteenth century, showing his beliefs of adult females as a gender. Did Shakespeare genuinely believe, as he had Richard in Richard III province, that the differences of male and female was every bit simple as the words male and female being associated with different statements? For illustration, the word male being associated with bruised weaponries, austere alarms, and barbed steeds, while female is associated with gay meetings, delicious steps, and sporty fast ones ( Lenz 36 ) .

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This word association was non merely connoting that work forces are strong and adult females are weak, but it besides shows Richard s finding to kill those who represent the opposite those who are adult females ( Lenz 37 ) . As most bookmans find Shakespeare did non utilize the maltreatment and ridicule of adult females as signifier of amusement and instruction but more of a manner to demo the audience the inequality that adult females are faced with.

He showed the mistreatment of adult females in his dramas to do his audiences acknowledge it, non hold with it.

Many readers who have non sat and taken the clip to thoroughly read and survey Shakespeare are speedy to presume, because of some of the violative ways Shakespeare portrays adult females in his dramas, that Shakespeare was another male chauvinist adult male. Readers besides do non understand why Shakespeare could non carry on dramas that provided the reply to these know aparting ways. Yet, through summarized extracts and illustrations it is easy to see that, in the words of Karen Newman, Shakespeare liked to raise issues instead than supply solutions ( Waller 40 ) .

Harmonizing to A.L. Rowse, Puritanism was a motion within the Church of England for closer designation with the rules of the early Protestantism ( 3 ) . Puritanism was extremely influential in the ways of work forces of the sixteenth century and the manner Shakespeare portrayed adult females in his drama. Shakespeare was a normal male child who had a normal instruction. Shakespeare, the well-known mastermind was a adult male who was much like that of a modern grammar-school male child, non good plenty for college ( Rowse 1 ) . His dramas are really grammar-schoolish in sense of methods and play ( Rowse 2 ) . When Shakespeare was being raised and educated, Puritanism was at a high point of learning. The Puritans instructors were non willing or interested in altering the positions adult females and their lower status, and in fact they wanted to heighten the attitudes already held, such as forced matrimony, matrimony for money, kid matrimony and matrimony between immature adult females and old work forces ( Dusinberre 4 ) . These Puritan instructors were extremely concentrated on ethical motives. They focused on sex, whether it was inside matrimony or outside matrimony, and on the male attitudes towards female virginity ( Dusinberre 24 ) . Juliet Dusinberre points out that Puritanism pushed the playwrights into speaking about adult females. The sermonizers posed inquiries about attitudes to adult females which provided the dramatists with natural stuff, and created an ambiance which stimulated them to utilize it ( 30 ) .

In the drama, The Merchant of Venice there is a subject of entry of adult females to work forces as important figures. Portia who is fixing to get married her suitor, Bassanio, states this address of entry to him:

Happiest of all, is that her soft spirit

Commits itself to yours to be directed,

As from her Godhead, her governor, her male monarch.

Myself, and what is mine, to you and yours

Is now converted. But now I was the Godhead

Of this just sign of the zodiac, maestro of my retainers

Queen o er myself ; and even now, but now,

This house, these retainers, and this same myself

Are yours ( hypertext transfer protocol: //tech-two.mit.edu/Shakespeare/works.html ) .

Portia s entry is about unprompted to her, because that is the manner adult females were raised to be. Her obeisance, entry, and doing of him her King is considered a true act of love to Bassanio. Submission in Puritan eyes, was the servant of harmoniousness in matrimony ( Dusinberre 85 ) .

Harmonizing to Dusinberre, a wife-tamer granted his married woman fill autonomy once she allows him all authorization ( 85 ) , as in Hamlet where adult male and married woman, one time married, are viewed as one. For illustration when Hamlet is go forthing, he must do one concluding salutation before he leaves to England. He salutes him with: Farewell, beloved Mother. Claudius corrects him swimmingly: Thy loving male parent, Hamlet. and Hamlet bursts out My Mother male parent and female parent is adult male and married woman, adult male and married woman is one flesh, and so my Mother ( Dusinberre 99 ) .

In the class of Romeo and Juliet, the subject is a socialisation calamity of immature work forces and adult females in their social functions. They were ever told to support themselves, households and award. Yet, it still has a sexual instruction in it for the male childs and work forces. Coppelia Kahn claims that Romeo and Juliet Fosters in the boies fear and contempt of adult female, tie ining adult females with effeminateness and emasculation, while it links sexual intercourse with aggression and force against adult females, instead than pleasance and love ( Lenz 172-173 ) .

With Othello we deal with adult females, Desdemona, and the topic of adult females as prostitutes. A prostitute is ever lower-class, a profligate is ever upper-class. To name a adult female a prostitute, as Othello calls Desdemona, non merely casts slurs on her ethical motives, but takes away her place in society ( Dusinberre 52 ) . Although Othello idolized Desdemona and cherished her, he disposed of her word at the minute Iago initiates uncertainties of her love and religion. Othello, despite his deep love, still held the inclination to believe of Desdemona as an object ( Lenz 212 ) . The personal worth of adult females is lowered in this drama because a adult male might kip with a adult female non his married woman and remain brave, generous, honest. A adult females, on the other manus, in that one act registered her ain ineptitude in every other domain ( Dusinberre 53 ) .

In Peter B. Erikson s unfavorable judgment of As You Like It, he reads the wood as an idealised enclave of ultimate male laterality in which both work forces and adult females may spread out their sense of bureau, but where female verve is non able to go independent ( Waller 156 ) . The author Jean Howard besides points out that the cross-dressing of Rosalind, enables her to redefine the function of a adult females in patriarchate, but merely to a limited extent: her actions portion the constructed nature of gender assignment, but the hierarchal two gender system is ne’er queried ( Waller 157 ) .

The Taming of the Shrew, because of its many readings, is one of the most controversial dramas sing adult females and their subordination to work forces. This drama is filled with sarcasm and imagination that fill the heads of the readers and viewing audiences of the drama. When reading the drama the reader is non certain if the drama is traveling to devolve into a knock-about, ludicrous conflict of the sexes or go the survey of how strong work forces and adult females adapt to the demands of a

relationship in a sexist patriarchal society ( Waller 39 ) . Harmonizing to John C. Bean, revisionists see the Taming of the Shrew as a comparatively sophisticated societal comedy, the dry texture of which directs our attending non chiefly to Kate s psychological unwellness but to the societal unwellness of a mercenary patriarchate ( Lenz 65 ) .

One beginning of imagination Shakespeare provides is one of his monologue s delivered by Petruchio. Petruchio negotiations about his relationship with Kate and compares her taming to the taming of a falcon. Yet, while we read this metaphor refering Kate s taming and larn more about falconry, the more insidious the metaphor becomes. Falcon chastening produces a strong bond of fondness between bird and hawker, but it is a bond forged out of coerciveness and use, ensuing in the falcon making the animal trainers command ( http: //daphne.palomer.edu/ Shakespeare/default.html ) .

Kate s concluding address is the most controversial subject sing Taming of the Shrew. Kate is a adult female who speaks her head and does non settle for less the she deserves and for this additions the rubric of termagant. Petruchio spends the full drama courting Kate, seeking to chasten the termagant that she is, ensuing in the matrimony of the two. While talking with two other sets of married twosomes Petruchio boasts that Kate knows the responsibilities of a adult female best out of the three married womans and in a non-direct manner has her prove her taming through a address. Kate delivers a address in which Shakespeare postulates domestic harmoniousness as being the entry of a married woman to her hubbies authorization ( Dusinberre 108 ) . The last speech Kate makes Teachs a really dry lesson to the other adult females sing the responsibilities of adult females. Shakespeare besides uses the association of the household and the state.

Thy hubby is thy Godhead, thy life, thy keeper,

Thy caput, thy crowned head

Such responsibility as the topic owes the prince,

Even such as adult females oweth to her hubby,

And when she is froward, cranky, dark, rancid,

And non obedient to his honest will,

What is she but a disgusting contending Rebel,

And graceless treasonist to her loving Godhead?

I am ashamed that adult females are so simple,

To offer war where they should kneel for peace,

Or seek for regulation, domination, and sway,

When they are bound to function, love and obey.

( hypertext transfer protocol: //tech-two.mit.edu/Shakespeare/works.html )

Many people interpret this address in many different ways. Germaine Greer reads it as a defence of Christian monogamousness that rests upon the function of a hubby as defender and friend, and it is valid because Kate has a adult male who is capable of both ( 206 ) . Alternate readings are possible though, it can be read as Kate s credence to Petruchio, her demoing her high quality to the other adult females, or being delivered with a blink of an eye to the audience ( Waller 40 ) . The bottom line is Kate s address should non be taken at face value. Kate s entry gives her power over Petruchio. The Puritans interpreted a married woman s entry as a manner of behaviour which could coexist with autonomy ( Dusinberre 108 ) . The power is so in Kate s custodies and her concluding address proves that indirectly, such as the manner she suggest in line six that if the hubby s will is non honorable, so obeisance is non required ( hypertext transfer protocol: //daphne.palomer.edu/Shakespeare/default.html ) . So while there is no uncertainty that Kate is subjected to power throughout the drama, it is besides true that she wields an irreducible force of her ain ( hypertext transfer protocol: //daphne.palomer.edu/Shakespeare/default.html ) . What the terminal comes down to is that Petruchio could merely play the portion of Godhead if Kate agreed to the game ( Dusinberre 110 ) .

The feminism of Shakespeare s clip is still mostly unrecognised. The battle for adult females s rights is thought of as chiefly a 19th century phenomenon ( Dusinberre 1 ) . A boy s development into manhood through proving experience is one of the oldest subjects in literature, while Girl s had to wait out a twenty-five-hundred-year literary history before anyone made fiction of their growing ( Lenz 100 ) . As Germaine Greer notes, adult females s authorship was so frequently edited by work forces that happening a pure adult females s text from the early modern period is following to impossible ( 42 ) .

Although critics believe that the portraiture of adult females in Shakespeare s dramas are know aparting, as classics go, Shakespeare is non bad reading for a miss ( Lenz 101 ) . While, it is true that Shakespeare ne’er allowed a adult females a drama of her ain, Shakespeare liked adult females and respected them ; non everybody does ( Lenz 101 ) . Shakespeare s adult females are to be praised, for illustration the self-respect of Portia, the energy of Beatrice, the beaming high liquors of Rosalind, and the sugariness of Viola ( Lenz 102 ) . Juliet, Cordelia, Rosalind, Beatrice, Cleopatra, Hermione, Emilia, Paulina Shakespeare s misss and mature adult females are individualized, realized, and to the full engaged as human existences ( Lenz 103 ) . A immature female reader is given some possibility and inspiration while reading Shakespeare s dramas such as As You Like It, The Merchant of Venice, and Much Ado About Nothing. Who would non, if she could, be beautiful, energetic, active, verbally superb and still sought after by desirable work forces, like these Shakespeare heroines ( Lenz 102 ) ? And while submissive clemency is non missing in Shakespeare, such as Much Ado About Nothing s Hero, these characters are ne’er cardinal to the action ( Lenz 108 ) .

Shakespeare could make adult females who were spunky plenty to hold merriment with, and still happen ways to intercede their assertiveness ( Lenz 103 ) . Shakspere and his coevalss could trust on their audience s watchfulness to controversy about adult females ( Dusinberre 19 ) . So, although William Shakespeare reflects and at times supports the stereotypes of adult females and their assorted functions and duties in society, he is besides a author who inquiries, challenges, and modifies this representation.

Plants Cited

Dusinberre, Juliet. Shakespeare and the Nature of Women. New York: St.Martin s Press,


Gray, Terry A. Taming of The Shrew Critique. 1995. Mr. William Shakespeare

and The Internet. Online. Internet. 22 March 2000. hypertext transfer protocol: //daphne.palomer.edu/Sha kespeare/default.html

Greer, Germaine. The Female Eunuch. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1971.

Hylton, Jeremy. Text of All Shakespeare s Plays. 1999. The Complete Works of

William Shakespeare. Online. Internet. April 2000. http//tech.two.mit.edu/Shak

espeare /works.html

Lenz, Carolyn, Ruth Swift, Gayle Greene, and Carol Thomas Neely. Woman s Part:

Feminist Criticism of Shakespeare. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1983.

Rowse, A.L. What Shakespeare Read and Thought. New York: Coward, McCann and

Geoghegan, 1981.

Waller, Gary. Shakespeare s Comedies. New York: Longman, 1991.


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